Friday, November 9, 2012

He is an orchid

I came across this article by the author who wrote "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"--a book I read earlier this year and absolutely loved.  (Yes!  I feel validated!) 

Some of her tips on parenting an introvert are easier said than done.

4. If you’re an introvert, try not to project your own history onto your child.

This is hard.  Remember this post about birthday parties?  Finn is fine, especially at this age, but I am harrowed up with every bad memory of being excluded as a child.

5. If your child is reluctant to try new things or meet new people, the key is gradual exposure. Don’t let him opt out, but do respect his limits, even when they seem extreme. 

Again, hard.  Especially when you feel like you have been very patient, and he should just be over it already.  Also, it is difficult when you feel like he has "overcome" a particular inhibition only to have it be revisited.  (The slide!!! What is so scary about the slide!!!)

6. If your child is shy, don’t let her hear you call her by that label. She’ll start to experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than as an emotion she can learn to control. 

This is hard because even if you are successful as a parent avoiding the word, other people will volunteer it for you.

8. Teach her to stand up for herself. It’s best to start young, if you can. If she looks distressed when another child takes her toy, take her aside afterwards and teach her to say “stop” in her loudest voice. 

Ha ha ha.  I have problems doing this for myself.  Teaching my child confrontation skills is going to take some work seeing as I have issues confronting a two year old who has taken a toy from my child.  

9. If you have an “orchid child,” you are very lucky: If your child is “highly sensitive” – the term for kids who are sensitive to lights, sounds, emotional experiences, and/or new situations — then he probably fits into a category of children known as “orchid” children. This term derives from a groundbreaking new theory captivating the attention of research psychologists. It holds that many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others, including highly sensitive kids, are more like orchids. They wilt easily, but if they have good childhoods they can actually do better than dandelion children. They’re often healthier, have better grades, enjoy stronger relationships, and so on.  You should know that one leading orchid theory researcher, Jay Belsky of the University of London, explained to me that the parents of orchid kids are very lucky because “the time and effort they invest will actually make a difference. Instead of seeng these kids as vulnerable to adversity, parents should see them as malleable – for worse, but also for better.”

I really like the term "orchid child" vs. some other term like "highly sensitive."  Highly sensitive makes him sound a bit neurotic while orchid child makes him soundly wonderfully unique.  Again, this is validating to me as a parent.  I feel judged at times because I can't parent my child in the same manner as most parents.  I feel like I am labeled as being "pandering" or "helicoptering."  Both things I try hard to avoid.     

10. Respect your child’s desire for time and space to play alone.

Ha ha ha.  If only.  Why don't you tell me how to cultivate said desire, huh?

So, are you an introvert?  Do you have an introverted child?  Do you find these suggestions difficult as well?  Is your child an Orchid or a Dandelion?

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